Harmful impact of online learning continues on multiple levels

Staff Editorial

The last few educational years have been distorted and altered by online learning, having consequential effects on students and teachers around the world. At school, or in most traditional classroom settings, students learn to socialize, interact, and develop their personality. In terms of online learning, these ideals are severely neglected. Whether in college, or children as young as five years old, students have experienced social isolation which is damaging to developing skills such as communication, respect, and forming thoughtful relationships. When sitting at home staring at a computer screen for seven hours of school and having limited interaction with teachers and students, there is a loss of essential human connection.

Most tend to think of school as a learning environment specific to math, science, English and more, but we must
bear in mind that we also learn social norms. Not only do we need this connection for mental health and overall wellbeing, there are also physical effects to having a decrease in physical interactions.

Student impact has been extreme when it comes to online learning, but teachers have felt the effects more than most assume. The accountability and time management skills students had prior to the pandemic were critical in their ability to learn, study and assess well.

“Last year was by far the most challenging year of my career and the data proves it. Kids earning a passing grade on the AP Exam in my sections dropped by thirty percentage points compared to the previous year,” Advanced Placement US History teacher Jefferson Gawle said.

Students who are easily distracted or simply cannot get work done at home are at a disadvantage. It is difficult for students and teachers to stay motivated, engaged, and overall just have a positive attitude towards this new method of learning.

“Even students who learned well at home missed the experience of group work, socialization, and a routine. It is a very inequitable way to deliver education and takes so many opportunities for innovative lessons away from teachers and students. Teachers could not formatively check students’ learning as frequently and informally as they could when they just walk around the room and look at student work and listen to multiple conversations at once. Therefore, teaching became inflexible and unable to respond to what students needed at the moment” pre-calculus teacher Laura Lanza said.

Teachers had to adapt to new methods of collaboration in order to keep students occupied without limiting the content they need to cover. With that, there is a certain responsibility that most students hadn’t felt the weight of prior to being online: accountability. When students are at home, whether assessing, studying, or simply paying attention to class, they need to be advocates for their own education. The result of this is cheating while testing at home. For most, this has been prevalent, there is no effective way of preventing cheating when students are at home. Students and teachers have a vast amount of issues that arise with unnecessary complications when teaching and learning online.